John Karolefski

Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

John Karolefski is the publisher and editor-in-chief of, a twice-monthly ezine that focuses on building brands through retail. He is also the executive director of the Shopper Technology Institute (STI), the only trade organization for providers of technologies and solutions that engage shoppers and analyze their behavior. STI produces and hosts the annual LEAD Marketing Conference which focuses on Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics and Digital applications.

Karolefski, the former senior editor of Supermarket News, is the co-author of three books: “Consumer-Centric Category Management,” “All About Sampling and Demonstrations,” and “TARGET 2000: The Rising Ride of TechnoMarketing.”

  • Posted on: 11/21/2019

    Kroger brings the farm closer to the table

    In-store farms could be the next big thing in U.S. grocery stores. My confidence comes from the fact that InFarm operates some 200 farms operated by 25 grocers in Germany, Switzerland, and France. But cost is always a factor. Grocers will need to decide if the investment will pay off.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2019

    Amazon confirms it will open a grocery store not named Whole Foods

    Opening grocery stores to complete with traditional players is no surprise. The keys to success will be shopping efficiency and creative store design. The wild card will be private label.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2019

    Walmart creeps on Christmas with promo deals before Halloween

    Christmas creep in stores has always annoyed me. I was once in a Kmart where there were promotions for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas -- at the same time. Sure, getting the jump on competitors is possible. Getting sales early is better than missing sales later. But some shoppers aren't amused. Do merchants care?
  • Posted on: 10/21/2019

    Jungle Jim’s delivers a foodie adventure

    I have visited Jungle Jim's twice, and both times came away very impressed. It is a Disneyland of food stores -- very engaging, lots of variety, and a fun store to shop in. Retailtainment is easier for supermarkets compared to other classes of trade. They can present samplings, cooking demos, food tours, dinners, and so on. And shoppers love it. Another grocer that stands out for an engaging atmosphere and retailtainment is Stew Leonard's, which I have visited several times.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2019

    Have Giant Food and Stop & Shop nailed ‘frictionless’ checkouts?

    Assuming the costs are reasonable, ScanIt-like technology may be successful for buying a small number of items. It may even lure shoppers away from self-checkout, which many shoppers don't use and some detest due to frequent technical issues with scanning. However, I have a hard time believing ScanIt-like technology will be used by customers with, say, a $200 basket. Shoppers won't want to do that much scanning and don't want to bag their groceries, which they feel is the store's job. Also, who will monitor young teens scanning a six pack and waltzing out of the store? Might Scanit-technology appeal to tech-savvy Millennials? Let's imagine a scenario with mom who has a shopping list on her phone in one hand, a scanner in the other hand, and a cranky toddler riding in a basket full of groceries in a stock-up trip. Yeah, that'll work just fine.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2019

    Will customers give Walmart the keys to their homes?

    Just another signpost on the road of crazy ideas. Three words: theft, breakage, Doberman.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2019

    Can grocery shopping make people less lonely?

    Many grocery stores in rural areas are community centers where shoppers begin their day with a cup of coffee in the cafe and where strangers become friends. "Chatter Checkouts" are a great addition to these stores where shoppers -- especially seniors -- are not in a rush. I remember reading a story about a supermarket in England that replaced many traditional checkouts with self-checkout terminals. The shoppers rebelled. As one said, "I miss talking to the cashiers when I check out."
  • Posted on: 09/25/2019

    Are smart carts a smarter way to ‘Just Walk Out’?

    The technology behind this cart is interesting and impressive. But is this cart practical? I have my doubts. One, compare the cost of one cart with the cost of one typical cart in today's supermarket. How do grocers justify the added costs? Customer convenience? Two, shoppers wheel their carts to their cars in all kinds of weather. The carts are often left in the parking lot for a store employee to collect them. Will rain and snow damage the smart carts? I would imagine so.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2019

    Is Amazon Go heading for a hard stop?

    There are several factors: It's too expensive, there is a lack of shopper interest/enthusiasm, and it is inappropriate for very large baskets.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2019

    Will miniature Meijers be a big hit?

    Meijer enjoys a solid reputation in its trading areas. So its brand will create awareness for its small store concept. Success will depend on two things: One, is the urban store filling a need in the area and two, will the urban store compete against strong entrenched food stores?
  • Posted on: 08/28/2019

    Is composting key to sustainable e-grocery?

    Good for them! I hope more will follow. In the larger sense, what can be done with the leading plastics problem in supermarkets -- water and other beverages in plastic bottles? Banning plastic straws and plastic produce bags is a very small step. The major statement is plastic bottles.
  • Posted on: 08/26/2019

    Trump’s tariff war escalates

    BIARRITZ, France/BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday predicted a trade deal with China after positive gestures by Beijing, calming global markets that have been roiled by new tariffs from the world’s two largest economies.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2019

    Amazon kills its Dash button – what comes next?

    The era of push-button grocery shopping comes to an end. Dash, we hardly knew ye. It is being replaced by voice-ordering via Alexa, which will also end food shopping in stores until it doesn't. The relentless march of crazy ideas continues.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2019

    Are store robots cute, creepy – or nearly useless?

    The reported benefit of robots in supermarkets initially is to alert store associates to breakages and spills in the aisles. I've always considered that to be a joke of some sort, or something for unsuspecting folks to believe. Are grocery stores awash in a sea of broken glass and spaghetti sauce? Do grocers need a $35,000 robot to tell a store associate to clean up the mess? Can't the store associate spot the mess himself/herself and clean it up? So the end game is for robots to check for voids on the shelf and mispriced goods. Can't a store clerk be paid $35,000 to do the same? Oh, wait a minute. The human may call in sick one day, take a coffee break, or ask for a pay raise. So the real issue is saving money. Invest in sophisticated tin cans instead of people. Yeah, that's a good policy. I might add that the supermarkets around the country that make customer service a top priority would never install self-checkout terminals or robots. They value people. One more thing before I conclude my rant. My sister-in-law posted a photo on Facebook of Marty in a Stop & Shop supermarket in Connecticut. The comments were revealing. Here is a sampling: Too creepy, give the job to a human, sooo creepy, too weird, what a waste, not the future I want, etc. Those are the shoppers speaking. Clear-thinking grocers who value their customers and human employees should pay attention.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2019

    How do brands maintain their cool?

    Food and drink brands can be cool at first if they herald breakthrough categories. Examples include Red Bull and Monster (energy drinks), Mike's Original Hard Lemonade (hard lemonade), and Impossible Burger (plant-based meat alternatives). They will lose their coolness over time unless they come up with new flavors, sizes and packaging, backed by cool marketing campaigns.

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